How to handle PC refusing another PC "Persuasion" move?

I recently run Sprawl and its persuasion moves goes like this

PCs choose whether to do it or not. If they do, they mark experience. If they don’t, they must act under pressure to go against your stated wishes.

Such design was present in AW 1ed and it still is some games from 1st and 2nd generation of PbtA.
I find it extremely hard to handle what to do when they refuse and have to ‘act under fire/pressure’.
How to phrase that inner conflict? What is at stake here?
Clearly 10+ is you refuse no problem, but what happens at 7-9 and 6-?


This is another ‘it depends on the fiction’ thing, I think.

It doesn’t need to be ‘inner conflict’, it’s totally fine to have other people in the scene be all “not cool, dude” or “Hahaha you should have went with your buddy’s plan, chump!”


Jim is right, this is very dependent on the specific fiction at hand. So, if you can give an example we can talk about what might be good stakes.

But you do have some generic options you can think in with The Sprawl:

Tick a clock (“Show them the barrel of the gun”)
On a 7-9, hard bargian, ugly choice: “Either you agree to what they want (even if you don’t mean it) or you have to raise your voice and yell over comms to make your disagreement known and the [Mission/Legwork/some other] Clock ticks up one. Either way, what does it look like?”
6-: What does it look like how you respond? Either way, this is noticed and the [Mission/Legwork/some other] ticks up.

Escalate (“Make their lives complicated now”)
On 7-9: You either create a scene by disagreeing with each other and [street gang (during legwork)/patrol (in mission)] gets the jump on you or you begrudgingly agree and just notice in time and slip away.
On 6-: While you are distracted by the argument, [street gang (during legwork)/patrol (in mission)] gets the jump on you.

Ask them “Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask”
On a 7-9, worse outcome: You can still grudgingly go along with them or openly disagree, either way, why do are they now convinced they can’t trust you anymore? include both players and ask them to collaborate how this is becomes clear in the fiction
On a 6-: The same but the rift is between you and all the other PCs; how do the rest find out?

In any case, any kind of PC vs PC requires all cards on the table, i.e. no secrets. Remember, player vs player doesn’t exist in PbtA; players need to be working collaboratively with each other, especially when their characters are butting heads and then it can be great fun.

The other thing to keep in mind: persuasion is not mind control, anyone is free to change their mind at a later time.


Just to add to the solid points above: I think the key to any persuasion that might impact PCs is to lead with asking ‘could you be persuaded to do this?’

If yes, then the other player can make the move with consent from the targeted player.

If not, then there’s no move.

MCs are constantly doing the same things with their NPCs. The Hardholder could not be manipulated into handing over their hardhold, but they might be talked into taking on a new lieutenant.

I can see why the fail state was changed in Apocalypse World’s second edition. There’s no loss of player agency, just the choice between going along with something you don’t want and missing an opportunity for XP.


Yes, what Michael says is the basis for any of the options. If that was not the case it shouldn’t go this far.

For that it may be important to remember that the MC has final say if a move is triggered. The player can’t just decide to roll to persuade another PC whenever they want, even if they have the agency to keep trying to do so in the fiction (and they can certainly keep doing that even if the decision was made that the move does not trigger because the PC can’t be persuaded about this topic… there are tons of examples in all kinds of fun fiction of that).

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